Jhene Aiko recently released an autobiographical short film to accompany her new album; both works are titled ‘Trip’. The short film ‘Trip’ was written and co-directed by Aiko and ‘Girls Trip’ writer Tracy Oliver. If you are someone like me, someone who appreciates Jhene as an artist, this cinematic work will only make you love her even more. She’s so open and not only do we get to hear some of her poetry and music from the album, but we also take a trip with her....a trip into her soul.
In the emotional short film, Jhene stars as Penny, a poet who is seen in a quiet and secluded area on the beach, writing. She meets Dante, who encourages her to take a trip with him. Penny just wants to remain in solitude, so that she can continue writing her poetry in peace. She tells Dante this and he proceeds by saying, “You can create your own peace. Peace comes from within.” This foreshadows the entire short film because as we continue watching we see that Penny has not created any peace for herself. She is still mourning the loss of her brother, who had passed away some months prior from cancer. Despite her doubts, she agrees to go on this trip with Dante.
Throughout their trip, Penny continues to struggle with her brother’s death saying, “I am looking for a brother’s love in every single man but you’ll never see me like my brother did, you’ll never need me like my brother did. There’s a black hole in my soul. It’s beginning to show through my dilated pupils behind lids half-closed. I thought that I would be fine by now, but suffering doesn’t die, it grows."
As the trip continues, Penny finds herself spiraling, self-medicating, and using drugs to ease her pain and to cope.
Throughout the film, Penny expresses herself through spoken word backed by Jhene’s original music like “While We’re Young.” “I have never had it easy,” she says. “Fuck you, if you don’t believe me...Fuck me for crying over spilled milk that I never planned on drinking.”
During her spiraling out of control, she ends up pushing Dante away. In an emotional instance, Penny’s brother is waiting for her in her bedroom. She asks him, “what’s it like? Is Tupac there?”
He smiles and tells her that he hasn't seen him yet. His smile quickly turns into a frown. A frown that shows that he is worried about her. He encourages Penny to let him go in order for her to truly heal and in order for him to pass on.
She tells him that she's afraid that if she lets him go, that she'll forget him. He responds by saying, "I'm afraid you never will."
He assures that as long as she held onto him he could not truly leave but he assured her that even if she let him go and lived her life, he would always be there with her no matter what.
In the end, Penny wakes up and begins writing with ease. With the words flowing out of her so naturally, we see that she took her brother’s advice. The camera then pans to the floor next to the couch that she’s sitting on...Her brother’s favorite green shoes are there indicating that he is always right there with her every step of the way.
This short film had me in tears. It really hit my soul. Watching Penny embark on a trip of love, loss, self-discovery, healing, and peace was satisfying. Watching this film made me realize that I hold on to the memory of my loved ones that have passed...specifically my grandfather... so tightly because I am afraid that I won't remember them so vividly or the moments we shared together. There is no time limit on mourning....mourning can last a lifetime.
How can I truly be at peace if I haven't discovered that I need to let go? As Dante said in the beginning, you can create your own peace because peace comes from within. We, as humans, owe it to ourselves to find that inner peace and to let go of the things weighing us down emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. Everyone should go on a trip...down the road towards inner healing and peace.
This film is a gift to those that have expirenced loss ... and those who often feel lost.